Get involved! Send your photos, video, news & views by texting COUNTY GAZETTE to 80360 or email us
South Devon drugs and money laundering gang
7:00am Tuesday 13th August 2013 in Devon
Memebers of a drugs and money laundering gang have been sentenced at Exeter Crown Court following an extensive operation and investigation by Devon and Cornwall police.
The sentencing followed the Devon and Cornwall Serious Organised Crime Investigation Team's Operation Austin, set up to look into the trafficking of controlled drugs in Torbay during 2011.
The undercover operation led to seizures of cocaine, stun guns and large quantities of cash and the subsequent arrest and prosecution of a gang of men.
Between June and November of 2011 the group were discovered to be involved in bringing drugs and weapons into the area. Officers used various tactics to gather evidence and establish the nature of how the gang operated.
Suspects’ cars were stopped and homes searched yielding thousands of pounds worth of cocaine and illicit cash totalling nearly £100,000.
Many of the stops and seizures were undertaken in the Torbay area but the operation also extended to Cheshire.
David Morrison, 40, and from St Lukes Road South in Torquay was the main subject of the investigation and was suspected of running the enterprise.
He plead guilty on March 15 to three offences: Conspiracy to Supply Class A drugs; Possession of Criminal Property (£85,980 cash); and, possession of 58 Stun Guns. He has yet to be sentenced. A Proceeds of Crime Act confiscation timetable has been issued.
Investigating officer DC Mark Parfey explained how Morrison had bought and sold counterfeit goods and stun guns to raise large sums of cash to buy drugs to cut and turn into profit.
“The cash from counterfeit goods sales, as well as stun guns helped him to raise enough cash to buy large quantities of high-purity cocaine from the Liverpool area.
“This would then be cut several times and sold on, usually in Torbay, making more profit and the cycle would continue.
“Morrison created a network of lackeys to do his bidding for him. He was very careful and distanced himself as much as he could from the illegal activities that he instigated, going to great lengths to cover his tracks.”
In one instance Morrison and co-defendant Simon Parker wrapped a bundle of cash the size of a breeze block in birthday wrapping paper and then stashed it inside a punchbag in the garage of Parker’s parents’ home in Paignton. This £85,980 was later discovered when police executed a warrant at the address. After forensic testing, the cash was also found to be tainted with drugs.
There were several other key seizures linked to the operation. In an early strike by officers in June 2011 police stopped a red Audi A4 in Torquay Road Paignton. In the vehicle were the driver James Polding and another front seat passenger. The vehicle was searched and found in the boot was a black Holdall containing 58 stun guns.
Polding, 46 and from Windmill Gardens in Paignton was sentenced separately last year.
As the operation progressed the Operation Austin team made more and more seizures of stun guns and cocaine from the various member of the gang.
Towards the end of the operation on the November 15 police intercepted a drug deal about to occur in Crewe, Cheshire.
Morrison and Neil Musk from Paignton travelled up to Crewe together to buy a shipment of cocaine after Morrison had met with his Liverpool contact Robert Daley.
Unbeknown to them though the pair had been followed by police who were monitoring the individuals and their movements between Devon, Cheshire and Liverpool. Police swooped and arrested Neil Musk, Daley and another person from Liverpool who were in a car outside Crewe Railway station.
Located inside the car was a brown parcel-taped package of powder confirmed to be half a kilo of high-quality cocaine. Also recovered from the vehicle was a large envelope containing £12,500 in cash.
David Morrison was arrested not far from the vehicle, on a train on its way back from Liverpool towards Birmingham. Not being present at the site of the deal was his attempt to distance himself from the crime.
On March 15 2013 at Exeter Crown Court David Morrison pleaded guilty to three offences: Conspiracy to Supply Class A drugs; Possession of Criminal Property (£85,980 cash); and, possession of 58 Stun Guns. A Proceeds of Crime Act confiscation timetable has been issued. He will be sentenced at a later date.
John Minchinton, 34 and from Kings Drive Brixham, pleaded guilty to 2 offences: Conspiracy to Supply Class A drugs and possession of 10 Stun Guns. A Proceeds of Crime Act confiscation timetable has been issued. He received 10 Years imprisonment.
Robert Daley 49 and from Celebration Drive, Liverpool, pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Supply Class A drugs. He was sentenced to two-and-a-half years.
Simon PARKER, 37, and from Southfield Avenue Paignton pleaded guilty to 2 offences, Possession of Criminal Property (£85,980 cash) and PWITS Class A drugs. A Proceeds of Crime Act confiscation timetable has been issued. He was sentenced to three-and-a-half years.
Neal MUSK, 34 and from Totnes Road, Paignton, pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Supply Class A drugs. He was sentenced to six-and-a-half years.
Charlie SMALE, 32 and from Sandringham Road, Newton Abbot, (or SMALL) pleaded guilty to possession of 58 Stun Guns. He will be sentenced at later date.
Det Insp David Dale said: “Significant cash seizures have been made during this operation, cash taken out of the local community by criminals for their own selfish purposes. Through the Proceeds of Crime Act 2022 (POCA) Devon and Cornwall Police have sought to put some of this money directly back into the local community from which it has been taken.
“One such example is a contribution of £1500.00 towards the Sensory Garden at Hayes Road Primary School, a project designed to provide all children, both able and those with physical and sensory disabilities to enjoy the scents, colours and feel of the plants and the wildlife attracted to it and allow them to increase their awareness of the environment and the flora and fauna in it.”
Comments are closed on this article.